796.11/1–850: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Philippines (Cowen) to the Secretary of State

top secret

75. Deptel 13 January 6; Embtels 2962, December 30, 50 January 5, 56 and 67 January 6 and 73 January 7.2 For Butterworth3 and Melby.4 Jose Yulo5 called on me evening January 6 to inform me that he had at President Quirino’s insistence agreed accompany him to US in role economic adviser. In response my questions what economic and related matters Quirino proposes take up while in Washington, Yulo replied:

(1)
Further war damage or other US financial aid;
(2)
International Bank loan;
(3)
Recognition additional guerrillas with implication extension to them of veteran’s benefits.

Yulo added he was going reluctantly because of disapproval manner in which Quirino has handled various matters, placing Philippine Government as he has in position where it will not be deemed to have earned right to expect further aid at this time.

I feel confident Department will agree that there are number of things Philippine Government should do for itself if further US aid is not to be dissipated without achieving desired results. I fear that financial situation of that government will have to become substantially [Page 1400]worse before President Quirino realize measures we urge him to take are required by Philippine self-interest. In meantime any assurance of US aid which he may secure will serve to make him feel that situation is not truly urgent and will tend delay the time when he may be forced make critical examination of his own administration. (Quirino’s apparent failure fully to comprehend my reasons for arguing against his appointing Madrigal as Ambassador to US, which was implicit in interview described in reftel January 7 illustrated his seeming inability either accept fact that our suggestions are motivated by concern for welfare Philippines or to subject his own actions to critical appraisal. He apparently did not realize that I was motivated by belief that it would injure Philippine interests as well as that it would put the US Government in an embarrassing position. It apparently also did not occur to him that, in his preoccupation with domestic politics, he was manifesting distressing disregard for his country’s interests.)6

That incident also indicates that Quirino apparently believed he could make a deal with me having as its basis my withholding from the Department important and pertinent facts. If he would hope to play me off against my own government, it must also be expected that he might seek to take a sharper’s advantage, in negotiations with the Embassy of any official American statements made during his present visit which might be construed as commitments to extend aid and that, if he could actually get desired aid direct from Washington, he would thenceforth ignore the Embassy insofar as that might suit his convenience. Accordingly, I would hope that Department will convey to members Congress having special interest in Philippine affairs view that issuance during or immediately after Quirino’s visit of statements in regard to possible aid would in Department’s opinion not be in accordance best interests either US or Philippines.

This connection I should like express approval recommendation mentioned Department’s reftel that President Truman defer seeing Quirino until after his hospitalization.7 In the interim, he will receive [Page 1401]less public attention and Department may have better opportunity caution appropriate members Congress such as Senators Smith, Ferguson, and Ellender and Representative Crawford,8 all of whom recently visited Manila. Should Department desire, it may be stated that they are being approached at my suggestion.

Cowen
  1. President Quirino was elected to a full 4-year term on November 8, 1949, and was inaugurated on December 29. At an inauguration day reception for foreign diplomatic officers, President Quirino informed Ambassador Myron M. Cowen that he intended to go to the United States in January 1950 for medical treatment at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. He was to be accompanied by members of his family but not by any high-ranking Philippine officials. Quirino indicated that he expected no official entertaining or notice to be made of his trip, but he did hope to have an opportunity to call upon President Truman. The messages under reference here, none of which are printed, dealt with the travel plans of President Quirino.
  2. W. Walton Butterworth, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs.
  3. John F. Melby, Officer in Charge of Philippine Affairs, Office of Philippine and Southeast Asian Affairs.
  4. Personal adviser to Philippine President (and Secretary of Foreign Affairs) Elpidio Quirino.
  5. In his telegram 73, January 7, from Manila, not printed, Ambassador Cowen reported that he had, the previous day, discussed with President Quirino the reports that consideration was still being given to the appointment of Senator Vicente Madrigal as Ambassador to the United States notwithstanding Cowen’s earlier explanations to the President for regarding Madrigal as unsuitable. President Quirino agreed that Senator Madrigal would not be suitable and denied he really intended to appoint him, but the President refused to authorize Ambassador Cowen to inform the United States Government that Madrigal would not be appointed. Instead, President Quirino passed to a discussion of Madrigal’s large unpaid war damage claims and proposed that if the United States paid the claim, Madrigal would not be appointed Ambassador. Cowen told Quirino that the United States Government did not enter into agreements of such a nature (601.9611/1–750).
  6. Telegram 13, January 6, to Manila, not printed.
  7. The reference here is to Senator H. Alexander Smith of New Jersey, Senator Homer Ferguson of Michigan, Senator Allen J. Ellender, Sr. of Louisiana, and Representative Fred L. Crawford of Michigan.